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Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

Pune on my mind: Maximum voter empowerment will strengthen our democracy, says Monica Singh

It has been our consistent effort to reach out to maximum number of residents of Pune district to ensure a great turnout of voters in the elections.

pune Updated: Jun 27, 2019 17:03 IST
Monica Singh, Pune district deputy election officer
Monica Singh, Pune district deputy election officer
Hindustan Times, Pune
Monica Singh, Pune district deputy election officer
Monica Singh, Pune district deputy election officer (HT )

Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education; the first step of which is voter empowerment. We, at Pune district collectorate, aim at maximum voter empowerment which will thus strengthen our democracy.

Pune district has the highest number of voters in Maharashtra which is 75, 49,072. Of this, 11 rural constituencies have 32,49,533 voters, while the 10 urban constituencies have 42,99,539 voters.

Enrolment of voters is a continuous process. In the last six months, Pune district has registered a growth of 3,59,807 voters.

It has been our consistent effort to reach out to maximum number of citizens of Pune district to ensure a great turnout of voters in the elections. We have taken various voter awareness drives through many college activities, while at the same time through many slogans and advertisements on numerous PMPML (Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited) buses and bus stop hoardings.

In September and October last year, we conducted many voter awareness programmes at many polling booths. At the same time, to attract the younger generation to participate in the biggest festival of democracy, our teams visited various colleges in the city with student representatives to spread the message of importance of voting.

We also focused on voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) awareness at public places and polling booths. I must, through this article, express my gratitude to the entire media fraternity who have been with us and have supported us in creating maximum voter empowerment.

We must never forget that the government is none but ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are the voters of this country.

In the four parliamentary constituencies of Pune district, the voter turnout in the Lok Sabha elections makes one thing evidently clear — that voters came in large numbers from the rural assembly constituencies than from urban constituencies.

While the Lok Sabha election was conducted in a successful manner, keeping the state assembly elections in sight, we have already begun work in terms of preparing the first draft of the voter list which will be published on September 1.

The first draft of the voters list will be out on September 1. Deletion of names of voters will happen if the person is dead and those who have requested deletion of his /her name. The focus will be on addition of names at the same time keeping a watch that there won’t be any duplication of voters in the list.

The district election officer has kept a strong focus on identifying persons with disability (PwD) voters in the entire district. During the Lok Sabha elections, a total of 17,017 PwD voters were identified and facilities of ramp, wheelchairs and magnifying glasses, volunteers were made available at polling booths. Data from zilla parishad and municipal corporation was used for the purpose.

Voter awareness programmes were extensively implemented in PwD institutions. Suyash Jadhav is the district icon for PwDs.

In urban constituencies of Pune district, a drive was also taken to shift PwD voters to the ground floor from the first or second floor polling booth.

Voting awareness through various SVEEP (Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation) activities like know your polling booth drive, go verify campaign through “Voters Helpline App” on Android phone, also through search engines and special camps at polling booth level can be done.

Also, associations with various stakeholders like colleges, universities, banks, post offices and NGOs will be of great help especially in the area where voting percentage is less.

Awareness of voting is definitely more in Pune district. As the city is growing with a large floating population, voters must themselves fill the deletion form, online or offline and after due procedure of deletion, the name should be added in the new area where they shift their residence.

Through Hindustan Times, I urge the people of this district to come out in maximum numbers in support of the district election office in creating voter empowerment.

We must never be oblivious to the fact that voting not only enables the citizens to vote for political parties, but it also helps them to realise the importance of citizenship.

Many people do not vote thinking one vote will not make a change, but as a matter of fact, it does. A nation’s political foundations are built using elections.

Always remember, that the ballot is stronger than the bullet.

Let’s all participate and, at the same time, encourage others to participate in this temple of democracy through voting.

My earliest memories of Pune: I first came to Pune when I started my preparation for UPSC in 1996. I was here for a short duration of three months. I found Pune was too urbane for me as I was from Marathwada. I did not imagine that I would work at the district collectorate in Pune. Also, my interest of poetry writing flourished here. I got a lot of love from the people and am indebted towards this city.

State of Pune today: Good thing about the city is it’s in a state of metamorphosis, experiencing growth at rapid rate, at the same time it’s a good challenge for an administrator. Being a hub of educational institutes, its demographics is changing which is good for the city.

One change that I want to see: I would like to see that the residents follow traffic discipline.

First Published: Jun 27, 2019 17:01 IST

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